This week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Dried herbs and stock (Bouillon)cubes…

Welcome to the final week of Store Cupboard Basics where this week I will explore dried herbs and stock cubes…

I hope you have found these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I broke it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who were not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Dried herbs and stock cubes…

Both cheap and very useful dried herbs and stock(bouillon) cubes are convenient standbys when you don’t have fresh stock or herbs to hand.

Some recipes, of course, you will be only able to use the fresh type.

Dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs so bear that in mind as you will overpower your dish. You can always add more but once added sometimes the dish is just spoilt as too much can be overpowering.

Salt…

I am very lucky and this is where I get my salt from as these salt flats are quite close to my home in Northern Thailand.

A key ingredient salt adds flavour and brings out the flavour in other foods. It also acts as a preservative when it is used in pickling and chutney making or when curing meats and fish where it draws out moisture and prevents decomposition. It is worth paying a little extra for rock or sea salt since these do not contain any added chemicals which are often found in cheap table salt.  Sea salt has a stronger taste than table salt so use in moderation and add a little at a time and taste to prevent oversalting.

There have been a lot of scare stories regarding the use of salt and of course, we should watch our intake BUT much of the salt people consume is hidden and in highly processed foods which if you exclude THESE from your diet it will reduce your consumption of salt. If I am using stock or bouillon then I am careful and sometimes I don’t add additional salt to a dish this is where tasting frequently during cooking becomes important…

Bay…

dried bay leaves and jar

A fragrant leaf from a laurel tree that is used as an herb. Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried; dried bay leaves tend to have a slightly stronger flavor.

Bay leaves are not generally eaten but are rather simmered in a sauce or included in a braising liquid like a stew or casserole, and then removed before serving. A bay leaf is sometimes ground into a powder and used almost like a spice I dry roast them an grind them when I make my Indian curry powders.

In addition to simmering them in soups and stews, bay leaves are great for stuffing into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it, and they can be added to the liquid for cooking rice.

 

Basil…

Although my preference is for fresh basil I do always have a small pot of dried basil in my store cupboard. The sweet and pungent basil is an essential herb in the kitchen because it can do wonders for a whole bunch of dishes. While cooking with dried basil, ensure that you use it, in the beginning, to allow it to develop its flavour.

Fenugreek…

Another kitchen essential in my cupboard…Kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves have an incredible ability to instantly elevate the flavours in a dish. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, being credited for popular dishes like butter chicken and methi aloo. Even adding a spoonful of it to dal can make the humble dish taste divine. Sprinkle some while making and kneading your dough for rotis and parathas for a flavour boost.

Oregano…

oregano-2119598_640

Again a much-used herb in my cooking I mean can you imagine biting into your favourite slice of pizza without sprinkling some oregano on it? This is possibly the one herb you should have, and the one that you must, especially if you love Italian food.

The bitter and lemony flavour of the herb makes it blend well in pasta sauces, salads and pizzas. It is extensively used in Mediterranean cuisine, and the good part is that it doesn’t overpower the other flavours in a dish. You can use it in your everyday cooking by adding it to toasts, sandwiches and even quick stir-fries.
Sage…

Sage is a herb which is commonly used in Italian cuisine it is one I always use when I am cooking pork although I prefer fresh sage dried it has its uses when making tomato-based sauces and again one I use quite a lot we love sage. I also make my own stuffings so again dried sage is a wonderful addition.

But fresh sage as above is wonderful cooked in butter or crispy as a garnish.

Tarragon…

The summer French herb can be used in everyday cooking by getting your hands on the dried version. The sweet and almost vanilla flavoured herb pairs best with eggs, cheese, seafood, chicken and fruits, and is an important ingredient in French cooking. Use it while making baked dishes, pasta, vegetable au gratin, soups and grilled meats.

Thyme…

A relative of oregano, thyme is used extensively in cooking while preparing soups and meat-based dishes. Its pungent minty flavour works wonders in stir-fries and baked pies as well. It is a key ingredient in the popular Middle East condiment called za’atar.

Of course, these are dried herbs which I use a lot in my cooking you may use dried parsley, rosemary, mint… I don’t find I have any use for those dried I always use fresh…What are your favourite and most used dried herbs? Do you dry your own?

Stock(bouillon) cubes…

These come in handy little cubes and are an excellent way to add flavour to your cooked meat and vegetable dishes, although if you are making soup the taste will be far superior if you make your own stock if you can.

It is also worth paying that little bit extra for good quality stock/bouillon cubes because cheaper ones tend to contain a lot of salt.

I always carry a small stock of different flavours just in case I run out of fresh stock or am in a hurry just always ensure if using the cubes that you taste before you add extra salt to your dish.

This is the last of my store cupboard basics I do hope you have found it useful…xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

More and more of my blogging friends have joined me on MeWe…A social media site which is fairly new and which promises much without the restrictions some other social media sites are choosing to impose on many of us…Join me if you will on  MeWe

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: 

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Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a relaxing weekend xx

 

 

6 thoughts on “This week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Dried herbs and stock (Bouillon)cubes…

  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2…Weekly roundup…Chocolate, Health, Recipes …Week ending 10th Nov 2019… | Retired? No one told me!

  2. koolkosherkitchen

    If I may add a tip to your wonderfully helpful series, dear Carol, there are free templates available that have lists of all the basics. When I see that something is getting low in my kitchen, I simply click, and as I make up a grocery shopping list, I already see what needs to be replenished.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. johnrieber

    Terrific list as always….some people think that eating Bay Leaves is dangerous, but it’s not because it’s poisonous in any way, but it’s because the leaf can be hard and brittle and cause issues when swallowed whole…I was just discussing that with someone who thought you had to pull them out of dishes before serving because they were poisonous…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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